Mystery - Caught In The Whirlwind Of Time,
In my mind French-Canadian band Mystery have had three separate periods to their career to date, defined by their different singers and while they probably came to many people’s attention when Benoît David was chosen to front Yes, it is with their last two albums that they have really made their presence felt. I do need to put a little disclaimer out at this point as I have known guitarist and songwriter Michel St-Père for more than 30 years and he asked me to write the introduction for the booklet which comes with this set, which was recorded in Holland on November 17th, 2018, but that has had no impact on my opinion of it. The gig nearly didn’t go ahead as although Michel had arrived a few days early, the rest of the band appeared to be trapped in Canada with their flight cancelled until Sylvain Moineau (guitar, keyboards) somehow managed to get them onto a flight to London. They arrived in time for the show, jetlagged and tired, but no-one would guess from their performance that night.
As well as Michel and Sylvain the band are Jean Pageau (vocals, keyboards, flute), Antoine Michaud (keyboards), François Fournier (bass, Taurus pedals, keyboards) and Jean-Sébastien Goyette (drums) and tonight was a celebration, a one-off event where they were performing in what the band call their second home. There are few progressive rock bands who use two guitarists in a rock setting, as many defer to metal or become something which are incredibly experimental, but here Michel and Sylvain have a wonderful understanding and the dramatic build to the entrance of Pageau on opener “Looking for Something Else” is simply superb.
Mystery are a band who utilise a lot of keyboards, but it is the guitars and songs which make them stand out so much, combined with a very powerful vocal presence. I played the triple CDs long before I put on the Blu-ray as I knew that once I started watching that then I would not want to return to the audio only, and I was right. As one would expect these days, there are multiple cameras giving us multiple insights, and the delight on the faces of Michel and Jean as they duet (guitar/keytar) is lovely. I firmly believe the last studio albums are the finest of their career to date, and this shows in the confidence being displayed on the faces of all those involved in this remarkable performance. Although their music is complex and multi-layered, there is always plenty of space and a huge use of dynamics and contrast so when they take off they really do, and are one of the most passionate and driving prog bands around.
I have been fortunate enough to be a fan of Mystery for more than 20 years now. If you already know the band then this is an essential purchase, and if you have yet to come across some of the most delicious and melodic progressive rock around then now is the time to jump in and investigate and this is the perfect introduction.